Love isn’t cheap, although love can be cheapened. Love at any cost exacts an incalculable toll on the human soul. A five-dollar short time will get you love in Olongapo City, but what kind of love is that? Even a ten-dollar long time, an all-nighter, gets you nothing but relief, one more conquest to secure your manhood, and another sea story for the guys at work. Where’s the love? Where’s the tug of heart strings when you part? Where’s the lingering afterplay, the sweet-whispered nothings and soft kisses that imprint you on her heart and make her feel like a woman? Where are the gentle lingering caresses, the searching fingers, the bodies pressed together among entangled legs and muscled arms? The short, sweet breaths, the bitten lips, the kisses in the hollow behind her ear? The scratch of beard, the soft underbreast, the gentle breeze lifting the light curtains and cooling the sweat on your back.
Love is expensive. Love’s toll is the subsuming of one’s ego for the love and caring for another. Love means tender care and a warm blanket, a cool washcloth on the forehead, aspirin, cold medicine, tissues for that runny nose. Love means running your lips through her frazzled-hair and whispering that she’ll feel better soon and you’ll bring her broth and maybe it’ll stay down this time. Love means cleaning up when she can barely move, keeping your arm around her but surreptitiously turning your head from sickbreath.
Love’s toll is exacted in ways that test us, test our wherewithal in committing to another, the strength of our commitment and our willingness to set aside personal needs and wants for the one we love.
Love’s reward is a love that lives through misery and despair, separation and reunion, riches and star-filled eyes. Love’s reward is waking each morning in love, kissing her cheek, and remembering when it began and brushing the gray hair out of her eyes.
Love’s reward is thinking “she’s as beautiful as the day I married her.”
Love’s reward is giving love and accepting love.
She is love.